Understanding Today’s Access Control Solutions

This article appears in the February issue of the DHI Security + Safety Magazine and is reprinted here with their permission.

Electronic access control systems offer an effective way to control and manage access for facilities large and small. From retail and office space to education, government, healthcare, and multifamily complexes, today’s systems are versatile enough to not only meet current needs but also have the ability to expand in the future – giving you and your clients the peace of mind of knowing they are making a sound investment.

Electronic access control technology delivers value beyond security and safety by also providing valuable business intelligence – allowing you to monitor who is entering and leaving your facilities, time and duration of visits, traffic flow and more.

Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all answer doesn’t work with today’s designs, access control technology is a diverse solution to secure any new or existing facility. Here’s an overview of three types of electronic access control solutions.

Stand-Alone Access Control
With stand-alone access control technology, all the decisions are made at the lock, by the lock. A stand-alone lock needs to be told what access to be given, so if a company wants to add – or delete – a user, they must physically go to the lock to reprogram it using a handheld device.

Stand-alone access control works best where there aren’t many users and just a few locks, such as a doctor’s office, a pharmacy or in retail – anywhere you want to give access to only a few individuals. The stand-alone locking system works best with a maximum of 50 users.

This access option takes the place of a traditional keyed lock. With this option, however, “If someone misplaces their access card, the lock is easily reprogrammed and the person gets a new card,” explains Gordon Holmes, Product Manager at Hager Companies.

Wireless Real-Time Networks (WRNs)
Real-time networks provide system administrators with real-time functionality, such as immediate updates of blocked or deleted users, door position status and lockdown capabilities. As soon as a person presents a credential to a lock, that information is being recorded at the server, and conversely, the server can control the lock remotely and deliver other updates as well.

These systems can be hardwired, but many facilities are opting for wireless platforms because they provide the same control found in traditionally wired systems but without the higher product and installation investment. Depending on the technology and system infrastructure, these locks can be in communication with the server every four to eight seconds.

Virtual Network
A popular combination of a stand-alone system and real-time networks is a “virtual network,” and it takes a completely different approach to access control. Traditionally, access control systems have required that each networked lock have a direct method of communication for it to be in constant communication with other doors and the server.

With virtual networks, the openings work in the same manner as real-time networks, but the locks are stand-alone battery-powered giving facilities the flexibility to pick-and-choose which openings have electronic access control. This system also provides the flexibility for an end user to build out their security over time.

“These readers are in communication with the system’s server and work just like most other readers,” notes James Stokes, Director of Access Control Business Development for Hager. “The only difference is that the lock doesn’t communicate with the server in real time. Instead, data is transferred from offline locks to online locks and readers through the user’s credential.”

The virtual network has another feature that makes it attractive – two-way communication. The lock and the credential communicate and exchange specific data, such as user access rights, battery status and an updated blacklist of deleted and added users as well as lost cards.

At access points – usually high-traffic openings – user credentials are re-evaluated every day and given an updated blacklist to spread throughout the facility. This process also allows for audit trail data to be extracted — the users and the credentials are the network.

There is also technology available to enhance the virtual network: a stand-alone, battery-operated lock that becomes an updating point. Not only is this an additional level of security, it also makes it much easier for systems administrators to organize the infrastructure of their building – without wires. This dramatically reduces the cost of adding or modifying traditional update points since any door with a battery operating locking mechanism can now be a point for updating user credentials.

The updating technology can be fitted to practically any opening or lock type,” notes Stokes, “so there are few restrictions to identifying which door you want as an update point.”

Determining the right access control solution for your project comes down to how the building needs to operate based on desired security levels and user habits. A school has different requirements and will need to operate differently than a hospital, commercial office space, assisted-living facility or multi-family housing project. And in every case, specific building and fire codes must be met.

Holmes further explains, “For example, a church will probably select a stand-alone access control because you have only a few entry points and many people going in an out throughout the week. On the other hand, multifamily projects will most likely need a virtual network. Having said that, today’s projects are pretty complex, so we are seeing more and more of them incorporating a mix of stand-alone, real-time and virtual networks. It really depends on how the building and openings are expected to be used.”

Additionally, many different types of locks work with each system, including mortise locks, cylindrical locks, deadbolts, interconnected locks, padlocks, cam locks, locker locks, and glass door locks. This allows for enhanced security no matter the design.

Consider these applications where selecting the right access control system contributes to the success of the project.

School Districts. Each school district has lockdown capability requirements, but how lockdown is accomplished varies. When an incident occurs, some school districts want all doors to become secured, while others want the ability to define which wings or areas to lock down.For example, in Spring 2018, the Abilene Wylie Independent School District (near Abilene, Texas) underwent the construction of a new performing arts center, and it was during the construction process that the school district elected to have electronic access control installed. Like most school districts across the country, they were concerned with safety and wanted to increase security in the new building. A challenge with this project was determining what openings were best suited for electronic access control. They chose to first add virtual network control on nearly every interior door that locked and then later decided to add card readers to the exterior doors.

Newly Constructed Facilities. During the design of a new building, traffic flow will be outlined, but after construction of the project is complete, it can be discovered that one or more openings may operate differently than intended. This is particularly true for commercial office buildings where the front door and parking garage were the intended access points, but after completion, it’s discovered that a third door closer to the metro is being used.

While accessing the building through this third door isn’t the issue, per se, the problem is that any employees using that third access point weren’t getting their credentials updated. With the ability to update credentials at a battery-operated wireless locking point, the system administrator can see the traffic flow differential between what was planned and what is occurring and can easily make a change in the software. Once done, the third opening acts as a credential update point as well.

ADA Projects. Many building codes include provisions for ADA Low Energy Operators. These operators require a knowing act for the operator to open the door, such as pushing a plate so that the door automatically swings open. When a virtual network is installed, instead of pushing the button, the user can present their credential to the reader to initiate the operator. This meets the knowing act requirement, but it also registers the event and passes a new key to the user’s credential, downloads the blacklist (to be passed to offline locks) and captures previous events registered on the user’s credentials.

Renovations. In retrofit applications, running power and cables to existing openings can be cost-prohibitive. Therefore, it usually makes sense to go with a battery-powered access control device. In these cases, the battery operator lock would enable its reader to become an update point.

Mixed-Use. The growth of mixed-use buildings provides a greater challenge – not simply with security but also with being code compliant. The right access control solution is found when all parties (owner, architect, hardware supplier and installer) work together to identify what type of access control device makes sense for each of the openings, which is best accomplished before the spec is written. They “walk around the project on paper” to ensure the right hardware is selected to meet the owner’s needs and comply with code.

Electronic access control devices and systems have advanced greatly these last five years allowing architects and general contractors to provide a variety of levels of security to fit the project. Whether it’s an office complex, multifamily high-rise, school district or multi-use building, there is an access control application that will fit your client’s specific needs.

By Ginny Powell
Product Marketing Specialist

A PDF version of this article can be found here.

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Tiny Houses

Affordable housing is drifting further out of reach, especially for people who have had to face many challenges. Enter Dianne Marshak with Social Justice 4 All. Social Justice 4 All, a group of Catholics and other Christians from West St. Louis County, had been looking for a project to help people who were homeless transition off the streets.  This coming after a trip to Chicago where Dianne encountered several people who were homeless and was moved to do something to help.

Social Justice 4 All learned about the Solomon Project, a 12-year-old project to provide affordable housing in north St. Louis, from the North Grand Neighborhood Services (NGNS). During a panel discussion on homelessness, it was suggested that tiny homes could help people transition out of homelessness. As the discussion continued a teacher from Rockwood Summit High School (website) volunteered his students to build the houses. The Tiny Houses Project was born and a commitment of three tiny homes, measuring 14′ x 26′, was made.

Hager’s involvement began when a former employee now retired, reached out with an appeal for a donation of the door hardware for the exterior doors on each tiny home.  The Hager family, without hesitation, said yes. With Johnston Hager, VP of Residential Sales and National Accounts, as Hager’s point person our internal residential customer service expert, Angelia McGraw, worked with Dianne to make sure the door hardware fit the preps on the doors that the students at Rockwood Summit High School had built.

Today, there are two tiny houses on permanent foundations in the City of St. Louis. Interiors are being worked on and both homes are expected to be ready for occupancy later this year. Once both of these homes are ready for new residents the third tiny house will be built on site.

Hager Companies was honored to participate in this worthwhile project. For more information, or if you’d like to get involved, check out Social Justice 4 All’s website here.

We were touched when Dianne Marshak came by the office to present Johnston with a plaque thanking Hager Companies for the door hardware donation. The plaque was made by the students at Rockwood Summit High School, which made it exceptionally special. We were happy to play a part, along with many other companies and individuals, in providing tiny homes for people who just need a hand.

Dianne Marshak with Social Justice 4 All and Johnston Hager
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Latch Protectors

Being a door hardware manufacturer we are passionate about security. Keeping a door shut and locked plays an important role in keeping people safe. When you hear “security” you may be envisioning a lot of different equipment like cameras, card readers, and maybe even grilles over doors and windows. Hager offers several levels of door hardware security options, but depending on your facility some simple, first steps, may be a better choice.

In the photos below you’ll notice a metal plate that runs vertically along the seam of the pair of doors, by the lockset. This metal plate is called a latch protector and they are available in a wide range of sizes, finishes, and shapes so they can be installed or retrofitted to most locks on both single and pairs of doors.

While we don’t recommend this application, we appreciate the effort of the building owner to resolve a security issue on an existing pair of doors.

This piece of hardware is designed to deter forced entry through door prying, kick-ins, and other actions to gain unauthorized access. Latch protectors provide simple protection from break-ins that is easy to install and is a low-cost first step in a line of defense.  Door openings where latch protectors may be useful include exterior entry, storage, equipment, or any opening where you need a little extra bit of security.

For more information about our latch protection products or any of our many other security products please contact your local sales representative or our customer service department at 800-255-3590.


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How to Size a Push Bar

We’ve all heard the adage “measure twice, cut once”. This definitely applies when prepping doors for hardware. And, how to order certain door hardware for doors, like push bars.

We have several helpful documents on our website and How to Size a Push Bar is one of them. This document can be found under the Related Files tab on all our push bar product web pages.

Here are a few tips –

For a Flush Door

To determine the size of a bent end bar with bracket take the door width minus 5″ and that will equal the correct push bar length.

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The Lowdown on Low-Energy Power Operators by Gordon Holmes

This article appears in the February issue of the DHI Security + Safety Magazine and is reprinted here with their permission.

Specifying door hardware can sometimes feel like a juggling act. Securing the building is often the first thought when considering door hardware. Determining who will have access to what areas and when can be confounding. On top of building and user requirements specifiers must also consider ADA laws, fire and life safety codes that dictate the types of hardware and how they are installed. Depending on the door opening several codes can interplay, and the door hardware must comply with every code and law.

Low-energy power operators have been designed with a few of these specific requirements in mind in order to provide easier accessibility through doorways. Functioning on the same principle as a door closer that controls the opening and closing of a door, “low-energy” refers only to the speed at which the door opens and closes. Low energy operators require a “knowing act. To open the door a person would need to push a button or pull on a handle, which engages control over the door.

The 2013 Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) Standard ANSI/BHMA A156.19 – American National Standard for Power Assist and Low Energy Power Operator Doors define a “knowing act” as follows:

“Consciously initiating the powered opening of a low-energy power door using acceptable methods including: wall or jamb-mounted contact switches such as push plates; fixed non-contact switches; the action of manual opening (pushing or pulling) a door; and controlled access devices such as keypads, card readers, and key switches.”

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New Accessories for the Roton® Continuous Geared Hinge Product Line

In keeping with our promise to provide products that enhance the safety and security of our customers, Hager Companies announces the new TIPIT® and the newly designed Hospital Tip for our Roton® Continuous Hinge product line.

This product was designed specifically with safety in mind. When door openings are fitted with the patented TIPIT® in conjunction with our Roton Continuous Geared Hinge, this combination provides a safe environment while meeting institutional requirements for preventing objects from being hung from the top of the hinge.

Made from durable, high-tech polymer the TIPIT® securely fastens to the door frame header using the included #10 TORX® SST security screws. Offered in two models, Concealed and Full Surface and two finished, Gray and Black. Suitable for both retrofit and new construction applications in the following vertical markets: Hospitals, Correctional facilities, Schools, Rehabilitation centers, and other institutions.

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Project Profile – The Sheridan at Laumeier Park

An assisted living and memory care facility, the Sheridan features 43 assisted-living apartments plus 41 memory care residences. An upscale community that sits on 3.9 acres and has nearly 69,000 square feet of finished space.

Working with the warm tones of the design the door hardware was supplied with a dark bronze finish. The 4500 Series vertical rod exit devices were provided less bottom rod to avoid tripping hazards. Furnished with the August lever style that meets ADA ANSI A117.1 requirements and provides a continuous look throughout the project, the entry suite doors utilized 3800 Series mortise locks and the interior doors the 3600 Series locks. Both provided the necessary security and dependability of a commercial lock with a more residential look.

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Concave vs. Convex Wall Stops

Wall and floor stops are inexpensive products that, when installed correctly, can help prevent damage to a wall, lockset or door. If a door is forcefully pushed open, a stop is meant to protect the wall from being gouged by the door or lockset, and it will also protect the door hardware from being damaged by a quick meeting with the wall.


Wall and floor stops come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can be mounted on the wall or on the floor behind the door.  For this post, we are going to focus on concave and convex wall stops.

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Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Door Closers by Vince Butler

This article appears in the January issue of the DHI Security + Safety Magazine and is reprinted here with their permission.

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Door Closers by Vince Butler

Door closers – if you’ll pardon the pun – literally go over most people’s heads. They are usually installed at the top of doors and door frames, out of the line of sight, unnoticed. Most door closers are purposely designed to match the door and frame so they don’t attract attention.

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